I hate Twitter, mostly for politics. I use it for work, for which it is quite useful. But for discourse about controversial topics, it is a horrid medium. And with the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Twitter and other outlets such as blog comments have again shown themselves to be atrocious places to converse about such events.
There has been a great deal of angst and anger on the Right about how some have responded to the NYPD police officer murders. I don’t think it needs to be pointed out that there has been a not-insignificant drumbeat from “law and order” conservatives that Brown and Garner deserved it, etc. And I think at least some of the offensiveness from the Left in this situation is a direct response to that. They see the outraged response on the Right as verification that whites only care about murders when it happens to someone who’s not black. Is it all a cause/effect to the Right’s attitude? Probably not. But I’m quite certain that there is some component there.
The knee-jerk response to all of this is “People like Sharpton and Jackson and DeBlasio are responsible for the officers’ deaths because they are fostering an anti-cop mentality”. Ben Domenech addressed this in his newsletter “The Transom” this morning:
Are politicians supposed to refrain from criticizing the actions of specific cops because it could contribute to a culture of disrespect for officers of the law? Of course not, any more than someone should refrain from criticizing any government official because it could create a climate of disrespect for such officials. Saying a military leader is bad at his job and ought to be fired for incompetence does not mean that all military leaders everywhere are incompetent or ought to be fired. But in a climate where the social viewpoint is increasingly collectivist, where tribal loyalties to class or creed or memetic affiliation are the most important definitional aspect of life, it’s to be expected that people make the mistake of exaggerating and overextending the actions of one member of a class to a whole. I distrust police officers generally, but I know that #NotAllCops are racist or corrupt, even in Washington, D.C. It would be unhealthy to think otherwise.
Criticism of something we disagree with isn’t a bad thing. People DO that. But, there is a need for all of us to think about what we say sounds like to those in “the other side” and stop saying stupid stuff just to fan the flames, and this is true on the Right and the Left. Twitter not only enables it but encourages it, and a lot of the time people do it just to piss off someone else. And that is just wrong, no matter what part of the political spectrum you live in.
All of these events were unnecessary losses of life and as humans we should have sympathy for the families and friends of the victims and not try to score points because of what has happened.
Me? I’m just tired of the always-on anger. Take 3 steps back, take a deep breath, read some Scripture, calm yourself down and think about how the other person feels.